Junior Programmer at Spiral House

July 2008 to August 2009

Background

As part of 3rd year of my course at John Moores University, we were required to attempt to acquire a placement in industry for the minimum term of 52 weeks. After applying to and receiving interviews for EMCC Software (Manchester), Spiral House Limited and Sony Liverpool (both Liverpool), I accepted a placement with Spiral House.

Spiral House at the time was a small team consisting of the Technical Director (Bobby Earl), Creative Producer (Kevin Oxland) and 6 others consisting of artists and programmers. Bobby acted as a tutor to me throughout my time there, which is a fantastic way to develop the confidence to make your own design decisions and see them through to their conclusions.

I coded in C/C++ the whole time I was working for Spiral House.

Training

I was eased in to the job with several training games to show me how the Spiral House engine worked and to improve my understanding of the process of developing a game. I wrote versions of Stacker, Tetris, Breakout and 3D Pacman during my training. Each game taught me a set of new game related programming skills, such as user input, collision detection, object oriented programming and artificial intelligence.

Games

Spanisch Buddy

After the completion of my training, I was put on to a Nintendo DS game call Spanisch Buddy. Whilst working on the game I used a DS development kit, CodeWarrior Integrated Development Environment for the code side of things and ProMotion for sprites. I had to work closely with the publishers via e-mail to part-design, implement and test required features.

We had to hit rigid milestones throughout development, including Alpha, Beta and Gold. This put an emphasis on writing code in a manner that was optimal on the error front and well tested.

Coding on a portable device taught me a lot about memory management and optimisation of code.

Unnamed PSP game

After Buddy went to the market, I was moved onto Computer Vision research and PSP development. The change over to a new technology was relatively easy as I was still writing in C++, just using a new IDE. I also got to have a go at coding using a PSP devkit and research into facial detection and recognition, including writing a path-finding algorithm for one method of detection.

Team Skills

Most mornings we held a scrum in the coder’s room to make sure we knew what everyone had done, what obstacles they faced with their work and what they were going to do.

Working in a small team was a rewarding experience, as everyone could easily discuss the pros and cons of the ideas of others.

 

 

 

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